Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 6/11/12
Ben Tate has the perfect attitude. Asked recently about being the quality back-up to Arian Foster, Tate summed things up succinctly: "It's not easy. It's not easy at all. But as you mature you understand the business end. He got a 43 million contract so obviously he's the guy. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out but in my situation you have to be patient, you have to keep learning and working on your craft." You can't express things any better. Tate was honest in evaluating the situation in which he finds himself and, at the same time, positive with the outlook. Let's face it, guys that rack up 942 rushing yards with a 5.4 yard-per-carry average are usually starters making a lot of money, or at least more than Tate's scheduled 490,000 for 2012. Sure, Tate has only done it for one year since he was injured in his rookie season of 2010. And he'll have to do it again to cement himself as the unquestionable best second-string running back in the league. Tate started for an injured Arian Foster in the first three games of 2011, so it would be difficult to project the same number of yards. The point is, he was an elite-caliber back-up last season. There are other good tandems in the NFL such as the Panthers' combination of D'Angelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart. But Foster and Tate were the best. And while Foster is perhaps the best of the best, Tate is a huge factor in the equation. For 2011, Tate was the best supporting actor, period. Back to the attitude. "I'm a competitor, I want to be the best," said Tate. "It doesn't matter that he was in front of me. Every Sunday is an interview. Every Sunday, somebody's watching, somewhere." It's quite the healthy outlook. In fact, it's what coaches often preach to secondary players: When you get a chance, make the best of it because someone is likely to watch the tape. In the spring there were rumors that the Browns were interested in acquiring Tate to be the starter in Cleveland but nothing came of the speculation. Tate's status is perhaps most comparable to that of Michael Turner of the Falcons. Turner played behind future Hall-of-Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego for four seasons before signing with the Falcons as a free agent in 2008. While Turner gained 502 yards in his best season with the Chargers since Tomlinson hardly missed games, it was clear that Turner was a quality back who deserved a shot as a starter. Turner has gained more than 1,300 yards in 3 of his 4 seasons in Atlanta. Tate believes, he too, will get a similar chance. "I just see it as blessing in disguise because I can sit back and keep learning," said Tate. "I'm still a young player. My time will come. My time will come and when it comes I'll be ready to explode on the scene and be a Pro-Bowl running back myself." Quality back-ups often make starters better. Texans coach Gary Kubiak has often discussed the importance of healthy competition within the team and exhibit A is the FosterTate duo. "Every day you have to get better," said Tate. "He doesn't want me gaining ground on him and I don't want him gaining ground on me. It's always a competition. We're always working to get better." All in all, an excellent outlook. The Texans can only benefit.
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